'In a former Speculation you have observed, that true Greatness doth not consist in that Pomp and Noise wherein the Generality of Mankind are apt to place it. You have there taken Notice, that Virtue in Obscurity often appears more illustrious in the Eye of superior Beings, than all that passes for Grandeur and Magnificence among Men.
When we look back upon the History of those who have born the Parts of Kings, Statesmen, or Commanders, they appear to us stripped of those out-side Ornaments that dazzled their Contemporaries; and we regard their Persons as great or little, in Proportion to the Eminence of their Virtues or Vices. The wise Sayings, generous Sentiments, or disinterested Conduct of a Philosopher under mean Circumstances of Life, set him higher in our Esteem than the mighty Potentates of the Earth, when we view them both through the long Prospect of many Ages. Were the Memoirs of an obscure Man, who lived up to the Dignity of his Nature, and according to the Rules of Virtue, to be laid before us, we should find nothing in such a Character which might not set him on a Level with Men of the highest Stations. The following Extract out of the private Papers of an honest Country-Gentleman will set this Matter in a clear Light. Your Reader will perhaps conceive a greater Idea of him from these Actions done in Secret, and without a Witness, than of those which have drawn upon them the Admiration of Multitudes.
_MEMOIRS_.Translation of motto:
"In my 22d Year I found a violent Affection for my Cousin
_Charles's_ Wife growing upon me, wherein I was in danger of
succeeding, if I had not upon that Account begun my Travels into
"A little after my Return into _England_, at a private Meeting with
my Uncle _Francis_, I refused the Offer of his Estate, and prevailed
upon him not to disinherit his Son _Ned_.
"_Mem_. Never to tell this to _Ned,_, lest he should think hardly of
his deceased Father; though he continues to speak ill of me for this
"Prevented a scandalous Law-suit betwixt my Nephew _Harry_ and his
Mother, by allowing her under-hand, out of my own Pocket, so much
Money yearly as the Dispute was about.
"Procured a Benefice for a young Divine, who is Sister's Son to the
good Man who was my Tutor, and hath been dead Twenty Years.
"Gave Ten Pounds to poor Mrs.--, my Friend _H--_'s Widow.
"_Mem_. To retrench one Dish at my Table, till I have fetched it up
"_Mem_. To repair my House and finish my Gardens in order to employ
poor People after Harvest time.
"Ordered _John_ to let out Goodman D--'s Sheep that were pounded, by
Night: but not to let his Fellow-Servants know it.
"Prevailed upon _M. T._ Esq., not to take the Law of the Farmer's
Son for shooting a Partridge, and to give him his Gun again.
"Paid the Apothecary for curing an old Woman that confessed her self
"Gave away my favourite Dog for biting a Beggar.
"Made the Minister of the Parish and a _Whig_ Justice of one Mind,
by putting them upon explaining their Notions to one another.
"_Mem_, To turn off _Peter_ for shooting a Doe while she was eating
Acorns out of his Hand.
"When my Neighbour _John_, who hath often injured me, comes to make
his Request to Morrow:
"_Mem_. I have forgiven him.
"Laid up my Chariot and sold my Horses, to relieve the Poor in a
Scarcity of Corn.
"In the same Year remitted to my Tenants a Fifth Part of their
"As I was airing to-day, I fell into a Thought that warmed my Heart,
and shall, I hope, be the better for it as long as I live.
"_Mem_. To charge my Son in private to erect no Monument for me; but
not to put this in my last Will.